Shopping for a new pair of binoculars for you or yours can be very overwhelming, especially since there isn't just one type anymore. There are binoculars for kids, binoculars for adults, compact binoculars, digital camera binoculars, fixed focus binoculars, opera glasses binoculars, and all sorts of other specialized binoculars suited best in magnification and features to specific pursuits, such as: birding, hunting, boating, astronomy; not to mention the standard multi-use binoculars from the beginning of binocular technology you may be familiar with. Below is a rundown of the different binocular magnifications specific to different interests, to help you best gauge what type is best for you and your lifestyle.
Astronomical binoculars are the astronomers'-and novice stargazers'-best ally if you want to both view the stars and planets above while being able to physically transport your optical device (as opposed to lugging the ole telescope around). The most common power and magnification for astronomical binoculars is 7X50 (low powered, high magnification). Others that will work are 8X56, 10X70, and 12X80 depending on whether you intend to use your binoculars with a tripod or not, though it is recommended for extended viewing. Also, make sure that there is a good exit pupil for longer distance viewing as well as fully multi coated lenses. Remember, that this type of binocular more than any other must be of the utmost in features as you'll be competing with low-light conditions; and need the best in light gathering and high resolution technology to help you see the stars, constellations, and planets.
Marine/Nautical/Boating binoculars are the best bet if you spend a lot of time at sea, or just want a trusty pair for an occasional cruise or sail. The best power vs. magnification for marine binoculars is 7X50 or 10X50, which allows for the maximum in light-gathering specs with a high magnification and a low power. Boating binoculars are similar to astronomical binoculars as the conditions for either are low light-whether at dawn, dusk, or night-and allow the best features for finding whales, sharks, dolphins, or lighthouses in the distance. Another necessary feature to look for in nautical binoculars is rubber armor housing and waterproof construction. While on board you are not completely safeguarded from the sea, i.e. sea spray, waves, etc; and it's best to find a pair of marine binoculars that will be best protected.
Hunting and Birdwatching binoculars help the avid nature lover detect animals with low power, high light-gathering specifications. The best magnification and power ratio for hunting and birding binoculars to look for would be 7X50, 7X35, 8X30, 8X40, and 10X50. All of these choices are great for pinpointing the animals' location and details due to the low power but high magnification and light transmission. In both scenarios, it is necessary to have a specialized focusing feature (such as close near focusing or the like), as subjects' details and tiny movements are of the utmost importance in both hunting and birding. Moreover, choose a pair of hunting or birding binoculars with an extended eye relief feature so you can view your subject for long periods of time comfortably. Lastly, trekking through rugged terrain and forest, it is always good to make sure your birding and hunting binoculars are protected by getting a pair that advertise a rugged housing or rubber armor construction.
Sports/Theatre/Opera binoculars offer the spectator a much-needed close-up view of the sport or show, when seats aren't optimum. Typically, the best binoculars for outdoor sports events have power-magnification ratios of 7X32, 7X35, and 8X40. Attending an event or concert outdoors is always unpredictable, but you definitely always want a pair of sports binoculars that have a low power but high magnification and high light transmission. For indoor games, concerts, or operas; it's advised to go with a 4X21 ratio, as less light and power is necessary. For both indoor and outdoor spectator events, definitely invest in a pair of sports/theater/opera binoculars that offer zoom and wide angle specifications. These features will allow you to focus on the subtle gestures of the actors on stage or the momentary crucial plays on the field or floor.
Lastly Standard binoculars offer a general power magnification formula to loosely handle all sorts of environments. Children's binoculars typically fall into the standard binoculars group (though with enhanced rugged construction). Standard binoculars are the best binoculars to get if you want an all-around good view of everything in your life: while on vacation, boating, hiking, in the backyard, at the concert...you name it...you'll bring your standard binoculars along. Of course the details, light, and resolution won't be as great as one of the previous specialized binoculars; but as long as you choose a quality brand with ratios of either 7X35, 20X50, or 8X40...they'll do just fine. Due to the versatility of standard binoculars, it's wise for your own convenience to get a compact pair so that you can bring them along anywhere, for any sight that might come up.
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